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Woooshing vs Not heating--check my logic

AnneMC Member Posts: 2
Hi all, this is my first winter in a home with steam heat. We had to entirely replace the boiler (too small) and all the piping (it was copper, for some reason) so we've been on a steam heat journey, let's say. Currently, everything is working quietly and perfectly, with one tiny concern. The radiators on the first floor "wooosh" very aggressively when the heat kicks on. It's not loud to the point of being a nuisance, but it's quite noticeable. Also, our upper floor radiators very rarely heat up at all. I'm not concerned about functional or structural issues--when the replacement work was done, and the boiler ran for longer stretches of time, the upstairs radiators heated up very nicely. I think what's happening is that our thermostat is on the first floor, and when it kicks on, the first floor wooshy radiators heat up the area so quickly that they kick the thermostat back off before the upper floors can heat up.

Here's my thought for solving/addressing this, and I hope you all can check my reasoning and tell me if it's sound. I'm thinking of getting adjustable valves for the all the radiators and cranking them down on the first floor but opening them wide on upper floors. My thinking is that this will cause the lower floor radiators to heat up more slowly and the upper floor ones to heat up more quickly. This will (I'm hoping/guessing) cut down on both the WOoOoOoOoOSH that happens as the lower floor radiators fill with steam AND will slow down the heating of the first floor to let the upper floors heat up.

Before I drop some more $$ on fancy vents, does this sound like a good idea or just some hot nonsense?


  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 23,286
    The basic idea is just fine -- but with one question. Do you have main vents on the steam mains? If not, there's your basic problem. Without them you will have a bad time getting things balanced, as you'll be asking radiator vents to also function as main vents -- which rarely ends well.
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
  • AnneMC
    AnneMC Member Posts: 2
    I'll check to confirm, but I am 99% certain we have main vents on the steam mains. Thanks for the advice! I'll go ahead with Plan Adjustable Vents for now and see if it helps. You all are awesome!
  • Chris_L
    Chris_L Member Posts: 336
    It is not just a matter of whether you have main vents or not, but how much venting of the mains you have. You could have multiple main vents that are totally inadequate.

    If you do have main vents, post some pictures here, along with some information about the size of your system, and see what kind of feedback you get.